Sunday, February 3, 2013

Brewing Like a Belgian

Oh Belgium. Just a decade ago their beers were all but unknown to the average American drinker. Today we all know Belgium to be the Holy Grail of boundary-pushing excellence in the European brewing art. So off-kilter is Belgium's brewing tradition, and so successful, that we Americans have established defined "style guidelines" to create their micro-nation-specific styles of beer. The grandest of which are the three great Trappist styles: Dubbel (double), Tripel (triple), and Belgian Dark Strong Ale (sometimes synonymous with Quadrupel or Quadruple).

My brew-buddy Patrick and I decided to brew a Tripel. Neither of us are particularly into super-boozy giant beers, so we kept it on the small side. Our intention was to brew a 1.075 beer. However, this was our first time with a new mill and a new mash tun, and we ended up with a slightly lower efficiency than expected, and that took us to an out-of-style (by BJCP standards, not Belgian standards) 1.073 Tripel.

For the recipe, we went with a pretty standard base of Pilsner Malt (Weyermann) and pinch of Munich. We also added a touch of acid malt just to ensure a good pH. We mashed low (149ยบ F) and we took a rather large liberty by deciding to add some late hops - Glacier (English-style US hop) and a little Cascade (the classic American "C" hop) were chosen to add a judicious dose of hoppy aroma to our Tripel.

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